The Canadian Guide To Streaming NFL Games

WHO’S READY FOR SOME FOOTBAW?!?!?!?!?!

I could take it or leave it personally. I like football and I even contemplated joining one of those fantasy teams just to get the opportunity to tell people about it. Because if there’s one thing people care about, it’s the performance of your imaginary football players.

If you’re a casual fan like me, you’re probably not going to spend much to make sure you have access to all the games. But at the same time, you probably want the option to watch every now and again, mostly because you’re a millennial who hates actual contact with human beings. ENJOY YOUR SCREEN, JERK.

I’m here to help and hopefully amuse a little too. Please laugh with me and not at me.

Here’s your guide to streaming NFL games, 2016 edition.

Twitter/Yahoo

For whatever reason, Twitter signed a deal for streaming NFL games this season. It’ll offer 10 different Thursday night games for the low, low price of exactly zero dollars. Some of the games are actually good!

Here’s a list:

  • Sept. 15: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
  • Sept. 22: Houston Texans at New England Patriots
  • Oct. 6: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
  • Oct. 13: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
  • Oct. 20: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
  • Nov. 17: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
  • Dec. 1: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
  • Dec. 8: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
  • Dec. 15: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
  • Dec. 22: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Twitter reportedly paid just $10 million for the rights to stream all 10 of these games, versus the $45 million or so per game CBS paid for the rights for broadcast TV. I’m guessing the NFL just did this to gain a little publicity, and we’re cool with that.

The downside to this arrangement is, of course, you’re stuck watching NFL games on your laptop or phone. Why even have a 60 inch TV?

Yahoo live-streamed a game from London last year, but it doesn’t look like the website will do it again, choosing to show NHL games instead.

NFL Game Pass

For the low, low price of US330 (or four payments of $99.99 for those of you either cash-strapped or bad at math), you can buy a NFL Game Pass, which gives you the option to watch any NFL game.

The NFL Game Pass app works through Apple TV, Roku, smart TVs, and both Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. There is the possibility that Sunday night and Monday night games will be blacked out because TSN pays the NFL a lot of money for those games. I couldn’t find a definitive answer to this question online.

 

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Cable subscribers

Nelson, if I was a cable subscriber, I’d just watch it on TV. What a dummy.

Here’s what you do. First, you suck up to somebody who has cable or satellite, and get their password. They’ll have to set up some sort of online access first, but that’s easy and most probably already have it. You then use the password to log into the TSN website to watch live TV when football is on. Boom.

That solves the getting access to the game issue, but it doesn’t solve the watching the game on a crummy laptop issue. You’d then use a Chromecast to watch the game on your 60 incher. What, you don’t have a 60 inch? Wuss.

Why does he keep talking about 60 inches? Is he obsessed with his penis or something?

Illegal methods

GASP BETTER HIDE THE CHILDREN AND COVER THEIR EARS TOO.

Some people have a problem with unauthorized streaming, others think the NFL brings it upon itself by charging more than $300 for streaming the games. Do whatever you want, I’m not here to pass judgement. That’s for tomorrow’s post, called Seriously, How Do You Live With Yourself?

Here’s what you do.

First, you go on the Reddit and search for NFL streams. Such a subreddit exists, but people also post streams in other places too. Next, find the game you’re looking for. This won’t be hard. You’ll have a smorgasbord of feeds to choose from.

My, uh, friend has had the most success with the Youtube streams. These tend to be fast and somewhat reliable. There are plenty of other options available, but I find they tend to be burdened with too many annoying pop-up ads.

Any other ideas on streaming NFL games? Comment away, yo. 

Wayne Gretzky Gives Finance Advice

Here in Canada, Wayne Gretzky is a GOD. Since he was the best hockey player to ever lace up a pair of skates, he’s achieved iconic status wherever he goes, at least on this side of the border. We all know as a player he took advantage of that, if you know what I’m saying. (Wink, wink) Because of Wayne’s iconic status, people listen no matter what the topic. Recently, in the Toronto Star, Wayne gave some personal finance advice. How good was it? Let’s find out.

My grandfather always taught me: If you have $2,000 in the bank, you buy an $1,800 car. You don’t buy a $5,000 car. You don’t borrow or leverage. So I never borrowed. I’ve never leveraged myself. Never tried to turn $1 into $10. Entrepreneurs that know what they’re doing — or think they know what they’re doing — that’s their thing. They love to leverage. They love to borrow. They want to build and keep moving on. You see guys that are very wealthy and they lose it and it comes back. But that’s their life. That’s what they enjoy. I’ve never been somebody that went out and borrowed money and tried to double it or triple it. The biggest thing I learned from him is never leverage myself.

Okay, that’s some solid advice about avoiding debt. Not bad so far. What else, oh great one?

I like to keep my money in the bank. I’m not a big risk taker. I’m not a guy who buys office buildings. I found my best real estate investments have been because I have loved what I was buying. Anything I’ve invested in, as far as property or a house, was because as a family we loved it and we wanted to build there.

Well, one for two ain’t bad I guess.

It’s easy to just put your money in the bank when you’re Wayne Gretzky and you’re one of the highest paid athletes in the world. He doesn’t need to grow his investments, all he needs to do is protect capital. Since you or I don’t make millions a year, we have to take some risk and try to grow our investments.

I’m bored with Wayne Gretzky’s actual finance advice. That dude is more bland than dinner at the old folks’ home. Instead I’m going to make up some financial advice Wayne Gretzky should be giving. But first, here’s a obligatory bikini pic of his daughter Paulina.

Don't worry, she's legal. I checked.

That spices things up a bit, huh?

Anyway, back to Wayne’s finance advice. Wayne doesn’t want to spoil his boring old man persona by actually giving interesting advice, so I’m going to do it for him. Here are some tips, Wayne Gretzky style.

DON’T EVER INVEST IN THE PHOENIX COYOTES. He cannot stress this enough.

Short a few bucks? Just go on a 4 city speaking tour in Canada to raise a couple hundred thou. Don’t bother preparing any remarks, just stand around, smile, and sign autographs.

Another tip if you’re short of cash is to have your wife do a Playboy spread. That’s like 10 grand an hour!

When Rick Tocchet asks you to join his illegal gambling ring, limit your bets to $5,000 at a time. There’s no need to go nuts.

Just go golfing with Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley. Those guys gamble away so much money that you could totally sneak a few hunskies and they’d never notice.

Did you see the pic of Paulina above? You know it’s only a matter of time until there’s a sex tape. That’ll bring in a few bucks.

Endorsing Ford trucks, McDonalds’ meals and having your own fantasy hockey camp are more ways to make ends meet if you’re a little short this month.

And finally, Wayne hasn’t done this since the early 1990s, but you can totally make extra money if you get your mullet cut off and made into a wig.

It’s Like Communism, But Crappier

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Even though I’ve sent out tweets that say otherwise, I pretty much have a perma-boner over sports. I also have a perma-boner over boobs too. I have been to the hospital several times about erections that last longer than 4 hours. Let’s not talk about that.

Near my neck of the woods, in cold, cold, Edmonton Alberta, the NHL’s Oilers have decided they need a new arena. Their current facility, Rexall Place, was built in 1974, and isn’t a very nice place. I’ve been there, and adequate is probably the best word you can use to describe the place. It lacks in seating, it’s one of the smallest venues in the NHL. There’s also a lack of luxury boxes, which are terrific money makers for any team. The team probably needs a new arena.

Like every team in their situation, the team went to the government with their hand out. And the city of Edmonton delivered, pledging $125M towards the $450M price tag. The owners of the team are putting up another $100M of their money directly, while another $125M will be lent to the team from the city, slowly being paid back from fees paid every time some poor schmoe buys a ticket. That’s $350M, where’s the other $100M going to come from?

Duh. Other governments, stupid. Mainly, the city and the team are looking for either the Province of Alberta or the federal government to kick in the remaining balance needed. Luckily for taxpayers, at least so far, is that both the province and the feds have told the team to get lost.

Meanwhile, we have the Saskatchewan Roughriders, of the league that leads all leagues in punchlines, the Canadian Football League. The Riders play at Taylor Field right now, which is another old stadium. It’s been renovated and retrofitted quite a few times over the years, and it’s pretty hurting. At least, that’s what I hear. Like I’d ever set foot in Saskatchewan to see a game.

Good news, Rider fans. The province of Saskatchewan has stepped in with all sorts of cash. They’ve given $78M to the project, as well as lending the City of Regina $100M towards the facility, which will be paid back from a $12 user fee charged to every ticket sold. The City of Regina is contributing $73M towards the project. And the team? Hey, they’re contributing too. The Riders are expected to raise $25M towards the new stadium. For those of you keeping track at home, the team is contributing just 8.7% of the total cost.

Want more examples? Don’t mind if I do. Taxpayers in Ohio coughed up over $400M for Sam (edit: it’s actually Paul) Brown Stadium, hope of perennial losers the Cincinnati Bengals. (You thought I was going to say the Browns, weren’t you?) Kansas City paid for over 80% of the $276M Sprint Center, which is home of the Arena Football League’s WHO GIVES A CRAP IT’S AN ARENA FOOTBALL TEAM FROM KANSAS CITY. Nice work, Kansas City.

Want more? Sure. Minneapolis’ Target Field cost taxpayers $244M and the both the city and state have pledged nearly $500M towards a new stadium for the Vikings. (Aside: the new Vikings stadium’s retractable roof is expected to cost over $200M) The city of Newark leased their airport to the New York and New Jersey Port Authority for $210M back in 2001 and then plowed that money back into a new arena. The Prudential Center opened in 2007 and already the NBA’s Nets have left for the greener pastures of Brooklyn and a new stadium there.

If I kept listing examples, we’d be here until Katy Perry succumbs to my advances. Chances are, if it’s a major sports facility in North America, your tax dollars had a place in paying for it. Governments have spent countless billions in principal and billions more in interest to finance stadiums that have crummy shelf lives. The Rexall Center, in Edmonton, isn’t even 40 years old. Is this really the best use of our taxpayer dollars?

The arguments in favor of stadium funding are bunk. The most common one is that these stadium projects will entice people to spend all sorts of money at the new facility. Here’s the problem with that logic – people would have spent that money on sports anyway. Sure, a new stadium will get a temporary boost from curious onlookers, but that boon is short lived. Besides, most people don’t have unlimited entertainment budgets. If they go to more sports games then they cut back on other forms on entertainment. New stadiums don’t create spending, they just move it around.

Increased tourism numbers are another advantage touted by the pro-stadium crowd. New stadiums attract tourists to watch the events happening there, not to mention visiting teams. Which seems reasonable, in theory. Once you crunch the numbers though, this doesn’t actually happen. People just don’t travel that much to watch sports. Want proof? South Africa didn’t actually increase their tourist numbers for the World Cup in 2010, and that’s the biggest sporting event in the world. That’s because regular tourists stayed the hell away from the soccer and especially those damn vuvuzelas.

People also argue that building these facilities create jobs for people, which is true. Except the government would probably use that money to build hospitals, schools or roads, things that also create construction jobs.

Need further evidence of this phenomenon? Take a look at Olympics, which have been giant cash suckers since Los Angeles actually made money on their’s in 1984. Since then Athens has crumbling facilities, Beijing has empty stadiums and Vancouver has all sorts of Olympic Village condos that still need to be sold. But hey, at least the world got to see how awesome the city is for two weeks. It’s the equivalent of trying to impress the ladies with your new truck.

We need to stop spending billions of dollars on these stadiums. If you build it, they will come. I’m just tired of paying for it.

What Moneyball Can Teach You About Investing

I should put a picture of Brad Pitt here to keep the ladies interested, but I’m not going to. Go click on my about page if you want a picture of a sexy mug.

A couple of weeks ago, I went and watched Moneyball, mostly because I liked the book an unreasonable amount. The story chronicles the Oakland Athletics during the 2002 Major League Baseball season. After the 2001 season, the A’s lost three of their best players to free agency, meaning General Manager Billy Beane had to improvise. He didn’t have the payroll that other teams did, so he had to pick up players that could equal the production of the departed free agents, but at a fraction of the cost. (Spoiler alert!) He ends up finding those players, and after a slow start, the A’s end up winning their division, only to ultimately lose to the Minnesota Twins in the playoffs.

In the movie, Beane hired a guy named Peter Brand (who is based on Paul DePosta in real life) who was using advanced statistics to measure the value of players. Brand threw out statistics like batting average, exchanging it for on base percentage, a figure that measures walks along with batting average. RBIs are discounted greatly, because they’re dependant on who gets on base before you. This school of thought is called Sabermetrics, and as you can imagine, there was a great deal of resistance by old school baseball folks when people started looking at statistics differently.

Anyway, I’m boring you with baseball talk. If you want a very limited explanation of what Sabermetrics consists of, go see the movie. And if you’re looking for something a little more in depth, go read the book. As always, it’s better than the movie.

Anyway, back to the thesis. What can Moneyball teach you about investing?

Firstly, Moneyball stresses the importance of doing your research. The reason Beane and Brand were able to identify undervalued players is the amount of time they dedicated to the pursuit. Computer programs were built just for analyzing baseball data. Countless hours of research went into discovering a new way to identify a more effective way of disseminating this data. They were mocked for not having lives, and they didn’t care.

As a Moneyball investor, you need to spend the time doing your homework. Annual reports will be your new friend, along with listening to conference calls, countless web searches, and digesting other investor’s thoughts about whatever company you’re interested in. You will not cry when mocked for having no life. Okay, you can a little… IF YOU’RE A GIRL.

In the movie, Oakland picks up David Justice after the Yankees agree to pay a large portion of his salary just to make him go away. The hope was, for Oakland, that Justice would regain enough of his former glory to be a useful addition. When Oakland traded for Justice, it was well known that his speed and fielding range were suffering, thanks to a career full of knee injuries.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you can probably tell where I’m going with this. Contrarian investors have no problem investing in something where the short term outlook isn’t great. They take a look past public perception to the inner workings of the company, taking a good long look at the financial statements. Once they find a company the public hates with a strong balance sheet and is still making money, they’ll pounce, and then just wait for the turnaround.

Yeah, sometimes the turnaround doesn’t happen. I’ve held stocks for years that have floundered and did absolutely nothing. I’ve also had stocks that have both succeeded and failed equally spectacularly. The beauty of investing this way is that when a stock works out for you, it really works out for you. It’s just like in Moneyball. David Justice had low expectations, and taking a gamble was a high risk high reward scenario- except the Yankees paid most of his salary, significantly reducing the risk for Oakland. You should invest like that.

The movie touches on this next topic a little, but the book delves into it in much more detail. When drafting players, teams would look at tools more than they’d look at actual statistics. This means that when a scout would go watch a player play, he’d look at how athletic his swing was, rather than how good the player was at getting on base. Players who didn’t look athletic were hardly given the time of day, no matter how good their stats were. Players were rewarded more for potential than actual performance.

People make the same mistakes investing. For a while this summer, Netflix traded at over 100 times earnings. Investors were gaga over Netflix not because performance was good (which, admittedly, it was) but because of the potential for even greater future performance. As a result of that rosy looking future, investors were willing to pay a huge premium to get their hands on the next big thing.

Sometimes, the next big thing works out for investors. Both Google and Apple traded at some very high multiples to their earnings, yet both delivered consistently for years, letting the earnings catch up to the share price, thereby making their valuations much more reasonable. Google and Apple are the 1st round draft picks that work out. To switch sports for a second, there’s always a Alexander Diagle to compliment a Sidney Crosby. Sometimes, the high flying stocks come crashing back down.

If you want to learn about value investing and can’t bear to pick up an investing book, Moneyball would be a decent place to start. You’re probably going to have to pick up an investing book at some point if you want to learn about, you know, investing. Might I recommend some in my reading list?

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*Oh, and P.S., the movie doesn’t even mention the fact that Oakland got ridiculously good starting pitching during 2002, thereby making moves for those hitters much less important.

Also, congratulate the winner of the Wealthy Barber Returns book, Holy Potato, with his entry- Financial Uproar: doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, I’m the loudest. Join the UPROAR. I’ll be emailing Potato soon. Thanks everyone for entering.

How Running An MLB Team Is Like Personal Finance

For anyone who follows my Twitter, it won’t come to a surprise that my favorite baseball team is the Toronto Blue Jays. Hey, I’m Canadian, I gotta cheer for the home-country team, right? Even though the Blue Jays are in the midst of another mediocre season, not all is bleak in Toronto.

In October 2009, Toronto finally fired longtime General Manager J.P Ricciardi, mostly because he had a gigantic nose. No, wait, that’s not right. Ricciardi was hired in 2001, and was given 8 years to turn the team into a contender. Ricciardi came highly recommended as a member of Billy Beane’s “Moneyball” Oakland A’s management team of the late 1990s. Even though the corporate owner (Roger’s Communications) opened up their wallets for both prominent free agents and to keep homegrown talent around, the Jays never even got close to making the playoffs during Ricciardi’s tenure.

Enter Ricciardi’s longtime assistant, Alex Anthopoulos. He was promoted to the head job when Ricciardi was fired. In just 2 short years, AA (like I’m typing out that tough Greek name more than once. Ricciardi was bad enough.) has made a series of shrewd moves that have quickly cemented his reputation as one of the better GMs in the league.

And the good news, at least for the guy who writes this blog, is that AA’s good moves can be applied to your personal finances. Here’s how.

Make The Most Of Limited Resources

Even though the Jays are owned by mega rich Roger’s Communications, their corporate owners aren’t just going to let the General Manager spend as much money as he wants. The Red Sox and Yankees have the resources to spend their way out of their problems. The other 28 teams do not.

One of the best moves made by Anthopoulos was to trade starting center fielder Vernon Wells to the Anaheim Angels. The Blue Jays received 2 players in return, but they’re not important. The significance of the trade was that Angels assumed all of the over 80 million dollars still owed over the last 4 years of Wells’ contract. The savings gave the Blue Jays the resources to sign Jose Bautista, who helpfully decided to become the best hitter in the league after the team acquired him for next to nothing.

Just like your finances, teams only have a certain amount of money they can spend. Well, except for the two teams mentioned. Since a full 90% of the team’s expenses are player salaries, trading high priced players can free up money to be spent later, like locking up a promising young player to a long term deal. Which brings us to point 2.

Controlling Costs

Baseball has a somewhat unique system for determining how much young players get paid. For the first 3 years of pro ball, players get a base salary, which is followed up by a form of salary arbitration over the next 3 years. What it means is that, for the first 6 years in the major leagues, a player plays at a discounted salary compared to a veteran who is free to explore free agency. Naturally, a really good young player is highly regarded. Not only does that player have potential, but they’re paid less than a player who was a free agent.

In July 2010, the Blue Jays sent shortstop Alex Gonzalez and 2 minor leaguers to the Atlanta Braves for shortstop Yunel Escobar and pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes. When the Jays’ acquired Escobar, he still had all three years of arbitration to go through. The team got a shortstop with upside, knowing they’ll have him at a discounted price for 3 years. It turns out the team signed him to an extension, which could keep him in Toronto through 2015.

How does this apply to your finances? Find ways to control costs in your life. Don’t resign yourself to things like car payments or buying too much house. You only have so many dollars to spend, finding areas to cut back on is a good thing.

Buying Assets When Nobody Else Wants Them

Over the last year, tension began to form between highly regarded center fielder Colby Rasmus and St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. Combine that with an off-year, and it appeared the once blue chip prospect would be traded from St. Louis.

Enter Alex Anthopoulos.

The Jays’ GM orchestrated a three team deal, landing the prize he so wanted, Rasmus. The young center fielder has the potential to be a superstar, both offensively and defensively. He’s just 25 years old. He’s just the type of player to build a team around. And, for the most part, the Jays got him for spare parts.

Like any good investor should do, the Jays acquired an asset when he was undervalued. Time will tell how well the transaction works out, but the Jays look like the clear winners of the Rasmus trade.

Hard Work Is Rewarded

AA is relentless when it comes to exploring trades. He’s notorious for following up on every rumor he hears, maintaining contact with every GM in the league. When he hears a player he wants is available, he’ll tirelessly work to bring that player to Toronto. His work ethic is widely known. Time will tell, but Anthopoulos is getting results by working hard.

So there you go. Like any business, running an MLB team is a tricky proposition. Just like the now infamous Moneyball philosophy of the Oakland A’s, a GM can turn a team into a winner by being smarter than his competition. Only time will tell whether the Toronto Blue Jays will become a playoff team under Anthopoulos, but they’re off to a good start.